Friday, February 19, 2010

Corruption Has Brought Down Many Great Nations


Corruption Has Brought Down Many Great Nations

David Sseppuuya

16 February 2010


Kampala — Lest we forget, many great nations and empires have been brought down by corruption. Even civilisations, have undergone, owing to the sheer weight of corruption.

- Rome - so powerful, so vibrant, yet so soft in the moral centre. The collapse of the Roman Empire was caused mainly by corruption in the leadership, many have argued. In Corruption and the Decline of Rome (1988), Ramsay MacMullen, a leading historian, argues that the collapse was caused by economic conflict between the upper and lower classes of the empire.

- The Soviet Union - nuclear super power, puppet master of the Eastern Bloc, champion of social equality, but ultimately the real life playing out of Orwell's Animal Farm.

- Some have postulated that the "coming collapse of America as we know it" will be the consequence of corporate greed and corruption. Snippets of it have been evident in the last three years, with inherent economic weaknesses in the US plunging the world into recession.

Which way, Uganda? The choices are stark - either go the way of integrity in governance, or enjoy the short-term benefits of degenerate governance and social existence, while slowly but surely knotting the rope by which the country will hang itself.

Corruption, with all its facets - moral, financial probity, political accountability, personal discipline, social consciousness - manifests itself fairly strongly in just about every aspect of Ugandan life.

Quite apart from the usual suspects - the managers of (financial and material) resources - the custodians of public trust like politicians, the Church, educators, civic leaders and civil servants, as well as family heads, and even primary school children aspiring for class monitor, have fallen foul of the false allure of corruption. And how about the private individual who will not pay her taxes, or let alone the car owner who will not respect traffic rules?

When they compiled the Uganda Country Report, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) noted that corruption was cross-cutting (that is a broad) problem shooting across the four areas of concern, of democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, socio-economic development and corporate governance. But what, then, is the way forward?
Speaking in Kampala at a public lecture by Sundulos Africa Leadership Training last July, Ghanaian Prof Stephen Adei, an authority on governance in Africa, told Ugandans that "a country without think tank capacity is like a human being without a brain."

Think-tank is the way to go. APRM has taken our governance issues to public discourse, in the form of the Uganda Governance Forum, where stakeholders openly discuss the day's concern and plot a way forward.

The Governance Forum debate on corruption, under the theme 'Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Legal and Institutional Framework for Combating Corruption in Uganda', last month drew a diverse crowd that included the Principal Judge, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), the ethics minister, legislators, academics, church leaders, politicos and politicians of all hue and colour, students and activists, and business leaders. The IGG set the tone from the outset by emphasising that corruption needs honest discussion at all levels.

The consensus is that Uganda has enough, and some even think, a surfeit, of anti-corruption laws.

Witness the Constitution itself, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Police Act, the Leadership Code, the IGG Act 2002, the Local Government Act, the Access to Information Act, among others.

We could probably get the Whistleblowers Bill and a Witness Protection Bill coming through the legislative processes.

So, it is not for the lack of legislation and, as the Principal Judge puts it, "we should not rely only on the law." We must, as the ethics minister says, cut out "the hypocrisy, double standards and lip-service" that has thus far characterised the anti-corruption drive. Legalism can only help so much, but we should, as well, look at the moral and other extra-judicial approaches. Noting a less-than-zealous willingness to tackle corruption, the think tank has the following recommendations:

- Leadership Code - the public service should ensure that public servants declare wealth at the start of service and monitor it consistently; expand wealth declaration beyond the current pool of public leaders

- Institutions - the Executive must act on recommendations of commissions of inquiry; Parliament must debate and act on Auditor General and IGG annual reports; check actual cost of services and products

- Morals - faith groups must emphasise moral education; moral aptitude tests be part of recruitment policy

- Judiciary - the Judiciary's role is not to fight corruption. There is a need to look beyond prima facie (first sight) evidence; get more judges and magistrates to tackle backlog; consider confiscating/recovering wealth/stolen loot of the corrupt.

As Uganda seeks to transform, the Governance Forum will sit monthly, making its contribution to what management scientist J.P. Kotter calls "a guiding coalition, a coalition which at the national level is a think tank".

Corruption has had its day for much too long. It is too late for the Romans, and the Soviets are but a footnote in history. Where does Uganda want to be?

The writer is a media consultant

News Headline

Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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